Friends, family recall Lewis’ legacy in Aspen |

Friends, family recall Lewis’ legacy in Aspen

Family, friends and colleagues of environmentalist and scholar Bob Lewis gathered at his memorial on Saturday afternoon, bringing with them the many examples of what his legacy in Aspen and the mountains will be.Lewis died in July at age 84. During his life in Aspen, Lewis founded the Independence Pass Foundation, the Wildwood preschool and the Aspen Field Biology Laboratory. He created the Braille Trail and helped dream up the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and the North Star Preserve.Posterboards, fliers and photos from most of these endeavors lined the lobby of Paepcke Auditorium before Lewis’ memorial began, proving that his life’s work will continue on in the Roaring Fork Valley for decades to come.”Bob spent his entire life volunteering and putting together projects that had to do with science and putting the big picture together for environmental awareness and education,” said Fadia Middlebrook, a colleague of Lewis’ from the Aspen Field Biology Laboratory. “A lot of people don’t know all of the organizations he had a hand in.”Lewis created the Independence Pass Foundation in 1989, for example, to fund and manage reclamation projects on the pass. Since then, the foundation has managed more than $2.5 million in contributions and in-kind services and supervised construction projects, including work to stabilize the top cut of the road closest to the pass.Lewis’ created the Braille Trail in 1962. Located along Highway 82, the trail features signs in script and Braille where the visually impaired can participate in a self-guided walk through the forest. More than 150 other Braille Trails have been built in the United States, modeled after Lewis’, Middlebrook said.Alumni of the Wildwood preschool also joined in Lewis’ memorial, some of whom now have children enrolled at the school. His daughter, Katie Etienne, noted that her father participated in a wide variety of projects during his lifetime, and that he didn’t do anything alone – he liked to inspire people to get involved.Dee Malone, who works researching for the Roaring Fork Stream Health Initiative, said their parent organization is Lewis’ Aspen Field Biology Laboratory because they share the same goals.”We want to be able to do scientific work and apply it to conserving the natural resources in the valley,” Malone said. “I think his vision was that his research and legacy wouldn’t stop with him. I think the things he started will be with us for hundreds of years at least.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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